By LYNNE IRONS
Last Saturday was one of those perfect winter days — cold and crisp — not a cloud in the sky. An impressive crowd turned out for the memorial service for Bob Flanders at the Abel’s Hill cemetery. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day to be laid to rest.
I pulled into my driveway late the other afternoon and as the sun was setting, it highlighted the red, fuzzy canes of my wineberries. I see them all over but have yet to find them in a catalog or for sale at a nursery. They make the most delicious red raspberry ever. They never make it into the house but rather get stuffed into the mouth by the handful as they are picked. Does anyone know the origin of them?
It seems there are signs of spring all around. I wish I knew my birds better. There is one singing in the morning nowadays that seems to be announcing the coming season. Crocus and daffodil are beginning to poke through.
Wendy Andrews was kind to share a section of the Jan. 31 edition of the New York Times. There was an article titled A Landscape in Winter — Dying Heroically about Piet Oudolf, the Dutch garden designer. He is the author of Designing with Plants (Timber Press 1999.)
He does not cut back his garden in the fall. Mr. Oudolf says the real test of a well-composed garden is not how beautiful it is in bloom, but how nicely it decomposes. He refers to the “soft pornography of the flower” and compares the life cycle or how the plant ages over the year. He selects plants which are interesting for 12 months. His own garden in mid-winter is sculptural, poignant, peaceful and subtle. He says “You accept death. You don’t take the plants out because they still look good, remember brown is also a color.”
How very convenient to read something which makes me appear outside the box instead of hopelessly behind. That’s right, there are several areas in my own beds which I shall now call sculptural as opposed to train wrecks.
He uses formal evergreens within the beds to add to the winter interest. Whenever I see the topiary elephant on Spring street near the end of Franklin, I get envious. I think I’ll try my hand at a boxwood duck or something. There is an eye-catching cedar foundation planting across from the ball park in Oak Bluffs. It has been pruned to look like fingers with Ping-Pong balls on the tips.
The lettuce finally germinated in the greenhouse. There is no stopping it now. It freezes solid at night but grows during the day when the temperature climbs into the seventies. I can work in there with bare arms.
I have had good luck with germination on the propagating mat. It has a thermostat set at 55 degrees constant temperature. All the onions and leeks have emerged as well as some Russian hollyhocks. They are the pale yellow perennials. I saved seed from a friend’s garden in the fall. I have tons left if anyone wants some.
The poultry workshop was a huge success. I am inspired once more. Guess I will haul out the Murray McMurray catalog and order some baby chicks. Nothing says spring like the day they arrive via the U.S. Mail.
I know I am treading on shaky ground here, what with baseball being the state religion and all, but how exactly does an aging baseball star’s use of performance-enhancing drugs a decade ago involve my tax-supported Congress? One would think that Congressional oversight might have been applied to the various shenanigans of elected officials that actually have committed misdeeds against the American people. Oh! I know we don’t want our sons having drug-taking heroes, but what about our little girls? Congress doesn’t bring Hollywood starlets in for questioning about plastic surgery or partying all over town. Our daughters are facing serious self-esteem issues as a result of the media’s obsession with the young, beautiful and famous. There, I said it. Forgive me. I am hopelessly opinionated.